A road trip in Oregon means you’ll drive along the coast, pass by lakes and rivers, wind through the desert, and even loop around volcanoes. Along the way, you can stop to go hiking, fishing, and shopping in historic small towns. Book a stay in a vacation rental in Oregon today. Here are the 10 best road trip routes and attractions in the state of Oregon.
1. West Cascades Scenic Byway
The West Cascade Scenic Byway spans 215 miles and can be completed in roughly eight hours. This is a beautiful road trip that has rivers such as the Santiam and the Clackamas, as well as lakes, forests, and of course the Cascade Mountains. You can stop for lunch near Detroit Lake, which has several restaurants such as Cedars Restaurant & Lounge or Kane’s Tavern. You can also eat at Korner Post Restaurant & Steel Wheels Lounge, which is a restaurant with a large collection of motorcycle memorabilia. The road trip ends near Oakridge, which is a popular spot for mountain biking.
2. Columbia River Gorge
If you’re looking to see as many waterfalls as possible on one drive, taking a road trip through the Columbia River Gorge is a must. With over 50 waterfalls in close proximity, you can try to hit them all over the span of several days or pick a few during this vacation in Oregon and see some more next time. If you’re short on time, make sure to see the Multnomah Falls, which is the tallest waterfall in Oregon at 635 feet. Continue driving down from the Multnomah Falls to see the Wahkeena Falls, which are only a half mile from the Multnomah Falls Lodge. Wahkeena Falls also has a picnic area by the road if you want to stop for lunch before continuing on to the other waterfalls.
3. Mount Hood
For a road trip to Mount Hood, start from your vacation rental in Portland and take Interstate 84 to Troutdale and the Bonneville Dam. Then head over to Hood River to go kite-boarding and windsurfing. Take a nice break afterwards and enjoy some craft beer at the Full Sail Brewing Company. Afterward, continue on to Mount Hood, which is worth the drive since it is the highest mountain in the state!
4. Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway
The Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway is an exciting 140-mile route that takes about six hours to complete and is best when done in the summer or early fall. Begin on US-97 at the Diamond Lake Junction and head to Crater Lake National Park. Crater Lake is a beautiful sight and you may even recognize it as the image on Oregon quarters! If you have your bike with you, you can stop and take a loop around the lake on the 33-mile road. Another fun way to see the lake is to go on a ranger-led boat tour and stop at Wizard Island. After Crater Lake, continue onto OR-62 to Fort Klamath where you can visit the Fort Klamath Museum. After the fort, continue on to Klamath Falls and end in the Lassen Volcanic National Park.
5. Blue Mountain Scenic Byway
If you’re visiting the northeastern part of Oregon in the spring or fall, you’re in luck because that’s arguably the best time of year to drive along the Blue Mountain Scenic Byway. Start off the drive in the town of Heppner, which is a popular spot for hunting and fishing. Continue on Willow Creek Road into the Umatilla National Forest, where you can stop to go hiking, mountain biking, and even horseback riding. After the forest, end your trip at the North Fork John Day Campground, where you can spend a few nights camping and fishing or continue onto the Elkhorn Drive Scenic Byway.
6. Hells Canyon Scenic Byway
Travel through valleys and along rivers while viewing the beautiful Wallowa Mountains. The Hells Canyon Scenic Byway is 218 miles and can be done in five hours if you want to just see the highlights. The Hells Canyon National Recreation Area is a popular spot to visit as it is the deepest river gorge in North America and includes over 215,000 acres of land. Make sure to stop at the Hells Canyon Overlook and the Hells Canyon Dam for some of the best views. To fully see everything the route has to offer, it is recommended to drive through it over the course of a few days and stay in one of the many bed and breakfasts in the 11 towns that you will pass through.
7. Pacific Coast Scenic Byway
You can spend 12 hours driving along the gorgeous Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, which not only includes coastal views but also has museums, lighthouses, and quaint towns to wander through. Begin in Astoria and then make your way through Garibaldi and Newport. In Newport you can see Oregon’s last wooden lighthouse, which is the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse. You can also stop at the Oregon Coast Aquarium and see the sea lions on Nye Beach. After Newport, continue to Coos Bay, where you can rent ATVs or go on a dune buggy tour. End the trip in Brookings, which is known for its beautiful redwood trees along the coast.
8. High Desert Discovery Scenic Byway
The High Desert Discovery Scenic Byway is a 127-mile route that takes about seven hours depending on how many stops and detours you take. Drive through the wetlands of the Masher National Wildlife Refuge where you can view wildlife and see beautiful views of Masher Lake from the observation deck. Continue your journey In Frenchglen, where you can stay in the historic Frenchglen Hotel. The town is also known as a fantastic spot for fishing for trout. Continue south on OR-205 through the Steens Mountain Wilderness and Catlow Valley, where you may see wild horses and bighorn sheep.
9. Cannon Beach
Starting in Portland, you can take the highway to Astoria, which is a scenic coastal town. In Astoria, you can go to the observation deck at the Astoria Column, go hiking in Fort Columbia State Park, or learn about the region’s Native American history at the Heritage Museum. Astoria is also famous for being the setting of The Goonies, so make sure to explore the exhibits at the Oregon Film Museum. After you’ve sufficiently explored Astoria, continue along Highway 101 for about 25 miles to get to Cannon Beach. In Cannon Beach, go hiking in Ecola State Park, or if the weather is bad, take a stroll down Hemlock Street to do some shopping.
10. Umpqua River Scenic Byway
No matter what time of year you are visiting, the Umpqua River Scenic Byway is a great choice for an Oregon road trip. Start the trip in Oakland, where you can walk through the historic downtown area and explore the Oakland Museum. Stop for a bite to eat at a local restaurant such as Lamplighter Inn or Tolly’s Restaurant. Continue on through Sutherlin to get to Kellogg, where you can go fishing in the Umpqua River. After Kellogg, stop in Elton to go inside the butterfly house at the Elton Community Education Center.
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